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Department of Taxation and Finance

Real Property Tax Administration Committee

Thursday and Friday June 24 & 25, 2004
NYS Dept. of Transportation
328 State Street
Schenectady, NY 12305

Facilitator: Tom Rutnik
Recorders: Janice Heeran
Assessors:Cathy Conklin, Tom Frey, Nick Longo, Todd Wiley, Patrick Duffy
County Directors:Doug Barton, Valeria Coggin, Caryn Kolts, Dorothy Martin, Joe Maciejewski (1st Day), Dick Sheflin and Mike Swan (2nd Day)
ORPS: Tom Griffen, Tom Bellard, Bruce Sauter, John Wolham, and JoAnn Whalen
Others: Geoff Gloak, Paul Szwedo, Paul Szwedo, Dennis Jersey, Dick Harris, Don Card, Bob Gawrelski, Jim O'Keeffe, Jeff Bartholomew, Bill Godell, Tim Maher, Jeff Jordan and Chuck Aviza 

Get Organized

Minutes were approved with no changes.

RPTAC / RPTD Association membership changes: Doug Barton noted that Dorothy Martin and he are leaving RPTAC. Mike Swan, who is currently an alternate, will become a RPTAC member. Doug also announced the following changes for The New York State Association of Directors of Real Property Tax Services (RPTD): Caryn Kolts is incoming president, Valeria Coggin will be the new vice president. The membership changes will become effective at the County Director's summer conference.

      1. ) On a monthly basis the CRM's should attend county meetings (possibly the assessor's association meetings) to review valuation data such as lists of sales. At these monthly meetings the assessors could also share data with the CRM's.
      2. ) The local officials and ORPS staff needs to agree on unique market influences, boundaries and market areas for all property types in July or August.
      3. ) The local officials and ORPS staff needs to identify the towns where we cannot build reliable residential CAMA models in July or August.
      4. ) We need to emphasize that PDC is a continuous process not just a meeting.
      1. ) What information?
      2. ) How was / is the information communicated?
      3. ) How can communications be improved?
  • Communication Issues
  • e-Govt/PEGS Update - Paul Szwedo.
  • Valuation Issues
  • Training Governance Team - Jeff Bartholomew
  • Forms Management – Tom Bellard
  • 2004 Equalization Rates – Tim Maher
  • Increase Notices – Dorothy Martin

RPTAC members took part in an exercise to explore ways to improve communication within the assessment community concentrating on Assessors, County Directors and ORPS. It was the consensus of the group that communication needs improvement. The group created an inventory of information flow. The focus was on communications and answered the following questions: 

Three lists were created, information that goes to Assessors, County Directors and ORPS. The group decided that the lists should be enhanced by adding the following data elements: Who the information is from, timing requirements, legal requirements and general comments / improvement suggestions. ORPS staff has until July 9th to review and make changes to the lists. The lists will be sent to the assessment community by July 16th for their review and comments.

Other comments concerning communication: Valeria Coggin suggested that a communication chart be developed that would tie various groups together. It was noted that County Directors use Listserv, but don't feel communications are official until it comes from ORPS. There are questions regarding where the information is to be sent to, i.e., the CRMs, the RPS Internet site, Governance, etc. There will be more discussion on these issues as we work further on information flow.

Generally RPTAC subcommittees are required to report to RPTAC via written reports. That practice has not been followed. RPTAC itself posts its minutes on the ORPS Website.

Bob Gawrelski discussed the results of a meeting to discuss PDC meetings for 2005 Equalization Rates. He had three handouts that resulted from the meeting. The 1st handout was the minutes of the meeting that included a review of the 2004 meetings, and a proposed PDC schedule for 2005 rates and Action Items. The 2nd handout, 2004 participation by region listed the percentage rates by region. The 3rd handout was a list of the number of 2004 PDC meetings held by month.

A meeting date was set for July 27, following the State Board meeting, to review and state specific expectations for the 2005 rate cycle.

2004 RPTAC ACTION Item #8: Compile communication lists for Assessors, County Directors and ORPS. Distribute lists within ORPS by July 9th and to RPTAC members by July 16th. RPTAC members will distribute to constituents and forward changes or comment to Paul Szwedo. (Paul Szwedo)

Paul Szwedo gave an overview of State and Local Information Systems (SLIS) Interactive Governance diagram explaining the interactions of the many oversight groups and teams. The diagram referenced the influence of the proposed PEGS legislation on future SLIS activities. This information tied in well with the data being gathered around information flow.

2004 RPTAC ACTION Item #9: Distribute to RPTAC members a list of acronym decode and team members for various groups referenced on SLIS Interactive Governance diagram. (Paul Szwedo)

Tom Griffen stated that the purpose of the PEGS steering committee is the publication of principles/framework to guide State and Local governments as information systems are developed or modified. He feels that this will take a few years. Some RPTAC members asked why ORPS is pursuing legislation to advance PEGS. Tom Griffen noted that he has been asked this by several different people/groups. He replied that someone has to get the state, county, and local governments in agreement as to principles or standards for PEGS to happen. He felt that with legislation that PEGS would get some attention from external stakeholder groups and seed money to do prototypes and studies.

Bruce Sauter handed out the booklet Bridging the Enterprise from the Center for Technology in Government (CTG). The New York State-Local Internet Gateway Prototype was built to identify, demonstrate, and evaluate key factors associated with the design, development, and deployment of a single point of contact for G2G work among state and local governments. (.pdf version)

Geoff Gloak had a hand out on the “PEGS” Bill S.6625, Would Facilitate Intergovernmental Sharing of Data, published in the Talk of the Towns, May/June 2004 issue.

Boechk's Marshall Swift:
Chuck Aviza gave a summary of the Cost Survey (2004 RPTAC Action Item #2). There were 250 responses returned from various munis representing 38 counties. In addition to these, 10 additional responses were received from counties performing the valuation/appraisal work in conjunction with the municipalities. Chuck felt that the results should adequately represent the cost approach usage statewide.

ORPS also conducted an internal questionnaire and 22 responses were also compared to the municipal and county responses. The ORPS' responses also indicated a reliance on cost data.

Chuck's analysis indicates that the cost approach is utilized slightly more for the residential and farm properties but is still very significant with the commercial, industrial and utility properties. This brings us back to the original problem, if we must phase in converting to Marshall Swift due to budgetary constraints where do we begin? Chuck felt it is very clear that there is extensive use of the cost approach by all parties and we must pursue the best course of action

A possible alternative to MSB is System Designs, Inc., (SDI) in conjunction with Govern Software who is a re-packager of Marshall Swift. They recently converted the Town of Southampton's data to a V4 format and incorporated the Marshall Swift factors. While Southampton appears to be pleased with the results we have not been able to verify the results as of yet.

Chuck is awaiting contact with SDI to get information to see if this is a viable alternative. If this company has already written the script to do a conversion of MSB cost factors to a V4 format, this could possibly result in substantial savings. Chuck will wait to gather this information before a decision can be made. A decision needs to be made by early fall. Chuck will email the information from Govern Software as it is received.

Bruce mentioned that he is attending an IAAO meeting in late August in Boston and will see how the issue is being handled in other states.

2004 RPTAC Action Item #10: Distribute findings concerning the Systems Design / Govern V4 conversion results in the Town of Southampton. (Chuck Aviza)

Valuation Sub-committee update:
The sub-committee met to discuss and create the Cost survey. They will meet again after the information from Govern Software is received. That information will be sent to RPTAC members via listserv.

Jeff Bartholomew presented a handout on the background of the Real Property Administration Training Governance Group. It discussed the following:

Purpose: "Provide direction for the development and delivery of training for local government personnel involved with the real property tax."

County Directors – Tom Bloodgood, David Jackson and Mike Swan
Assessors – David Briggs, Cathy Conklin and Tom Frey
ORPS – Jeff Bartholomew, Cyndy Knox and Sally Cooney
At-Large Members – Eugene Monaco (Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy), Nelson Bills (Cornell University), John Zukowski (Arrow Appraisal Services)

Group Role:
- Along with ORPS “content owners” and EDS staff, reviewing current curriculum and recommending needed revisions;
- Encouraging quality instructor development;
- Communicating to constituents;
- Recommending conference topics;
- Participating in the implementation of a revised Assessor/County Director Training Program – October 2007

Jeff indicated that a lot of work needed to be done regarding the training program. Staff turnover at both the State and local level necessitates the need for a strong training program. Training has been identified as a significant component of our efforts to ensure business continuity throughout the assessment community and a collaborative effort is needed to achieve the goal of overhauling the training program.

The team goal is to have new course material for 2007. Also, new software to administer the records, assessment administration will need to be implemented.

ORPS has created an internal ad hoc team to draft an agency forms policy and to map the process of external forms, i.e. creation, modification and printing. The agency thrust has been to put all forms on the Internet and minimize the number of forms printed and mailed. It was noted that the .pdf fill-in forms on the ORPS web site are very well received.

Complaint Booklet – RPTAC members from the assessment community stressed the importance of having enough complaint forms and booklets. They felt that the push for equity causes more grievances. Tom Bellard said it is a question of whether ORPS is legally bound to print the booklets, or provide them, as in putting them on the Internet. It was suggested that the booklet should be streamlined. Valeria Coggin asked to clarify the suggestion / comment process for forms. She also suggested that the grievance form should state that it only allows only one parcel per form.

An External forms review group (2004 RPTAC Action Item #7) - has been formed, but has not met yet. The team members include:

      Assessors: Peter Galarneau, Walter Smead

      County Directors: Mike Swan and Jim Gonyo

      ORPS: Steve Harrison

It was the opinion of some that work needs to be done on the STAR form. Currently the form has the dollar amount on it that restricts its use to a single year, given that the income ceiling changes. It was also noted that a supply of the STAR forms would be desirable to have in the assessor's office.

Tim Maher reported that tentative 2004 State equalization rates have been established for 955 cities and towns. The equalization rate is the same as the Level of Assessment (LOA) declared by the assessor for 82 percent of these municipalities. By comparison, in 2003 the LOA was confirmed as the equalization rate for 76 percent of cities and towns and in 2002 the LOA was confirmed for 64 percent of cities and towns. Tim stated that ORPS is on schedule to establish final rates for all municipalities before the first levy of taxes. ORPS expects to have the vast majority of rates final by August 1st.

Tim distributed the following handouts – 1st graph - showing the percent of cities and towns where the level of assessment was accepted as the State Equalization Rate. 2nd graph - Comparison of 2004 State Equalization Rate to Original Market Value Ratio in Non-reassessment Municipalities where the LOA was approved as the Equalization Rate.

RPTAC Equalization Sub-committee – The Equalization sub-committee thinks that they need to improve their communications with RPTAC. They decided that in addition to placing the meeting minutes on the ORPS web site, they would e-mail the minutes to RPTAC members. They also agreed that Tim would distribute the draft minutes to members of the Equalization sub-committee within one week of their meetings. The team members will comment on the draft minutes within 10 days of receiving the draft.

The sub-committee expressed concern that sales of multiple parcels are not available for comp purposes in RPS. This is especially critical for farm sales and analysis. This is a high priority for RPS modifications and will be communicated by the sub-committee to the RPS Change Board.

Pre-decisional Collaboration (PDC) Process for 2005 Equalization Rates:
The equalization sub-committee discussed the results of the meeting that was held on June 15th 2004 regarding proposed PDC processes for equalization rates. The sub-committee discussed the notes from the meeting and is in general agreement with the proposed schedule. The sub-committee thinks that there should be several additions to the schedule:

2004 RPTAC ACTION Item #11: Distribute to RPTAC members a chart of LOAs not approved as Equalization Rate. (Tim Maher)

The County Directors had a proposal concerning increase and disclosure notices. They want to convert the assessed value increase to a full market equivalent for all assessing units. There was much discussion on the merits, problems and complications of such a practice. Additionally, this option would need to be optional, as the statute does not require this.

Along the same topic – increase and disclosure notices - RPS Governance has designated a sub-group to explore the consolidation of notices and have identified the capacity for this in the 2006 release to be critical. Those recommendations need to be made to the RPS Change Control Board in October 2004.

2004 RPTAC ACTION Item #12: Reassessment Public Relations Advisory Group will review the proposal to add market value to the assessment change (510) notice. In addition, the group is drafting proposed changes to the assessment disclosure (511) notice. The group will share their recommendations and draft with RPTAC and the RPS Governance sub-group in September. (Geoff Gloak)

  • STAR IVP – Tim Maher and Bill Godell
  • Wrap Up

Tim Maher will meet on July 13 with assessors, county directors and Tax and Finance to discuss potential improvements in the STAR IVP process.

Bill Godell reported that various changes had been made to the STAR IVP application. He also stated that a request for changes to the STAR IVP Internet application was published in the Uniform Standard. Future enhancements to the application will be made in November of 2004.

2004 RPTAC ACTION Item #13: Put list of STAR IVP application changes on ORPS web site. (Bill Godell - See link Below)

2004 RPTAC ACTION Item #14: Written reports from Sub-Committee before RPTAC meetings. (RPTAC Sub-committees)

Legislation – Jim O'Keeffe

Jim O'Keeffe passed out a list of legislation that has passed both houses and gave a brief summary of each bill. A question was raised concerning Senate Bill no. 6602, which repeals the “certified county” provisions. There would be no “add back” of partial exemptions for those assessing units in which county taxes are apportioned using taxable assessed value. The bill, if signed, would first apply for fiscal years beginning in 2005.

2004 RPTAC Meeting Schedule:

      September 23rd and 24th (at ORPS)

    December 9th and 10th (at ORPS)